Saturday, September 19, 2009


A relative of mine is food editor for a metropolitan daily and its online counterpart. Not long ago he wrote a column about food-themed movies, a way of combining two of his great loves, I'll bet. What he wrote inspired me to think about some of the films I've enjoyed with food in a lead or supporting role.

Big Night (1996), the story of two brothers struggling to keep their Italian restaurant afloat in the 1950's (the dinner scene will make your mouth water)...My Dinner With Andre (1981), a philosophical talkfest between Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory that takes place one evening as they dine, course by course, in a fine restaurant.

One I haven't seen since its release but remember fondly is the mystery romp Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978) in which chefs are being murdered in the manner of their most famous dish. This doesn't bode well for Jacqueline Bisset's character (pictured with Jean-Pierre Cassel), a famed pastry chef whose specialty is a "bombe."

Going back a ways, there's Diamond Jim (1935) starring Edward Arnold as Diamond Jim Brady. The man's appetite and size were legedary: he apparently could eat enough for 10 in one sitting. In the film, though not in life, Brady eats himself to death.

Internationally, I like the poetic Mexican film Like Water for Chocolate (1992), in which a woman's forbidden passion infuses her cooking...and, from Japan, Tampopo (1985) - the first "Japanese Noodle Western." Central to the plot is mastering the art of the perfect noodle bowl, but several related food-themed vignettes feature food and people of all kinds.

On the "happy homemaker" front there's Christmas in Connecticut (1945) a romantic comedy/holiday classic. Barbara Stanwyck portrays a Martha Stewart-like writer for a women's magazine who actually hasn't a clue about the homemaking arts but is falling for a Navy man whose dream is to partake of her home-cooked meals. Heartburn (1986) stars Meryl Streep as a NY food writer/gourmet cook married to a DC columnist who's unfaithful. A classic scene takes place when the couple goes to dinner at the home of friends and, during the course of the meal the wife, having recently found out that the husband is seeing the other woman again, picks up the homemade key lime pie she brought and pushes it into his face.

If you've got some food-theme films to share, please do.


Rick29 said...

I love this blog, Eve! But before I leave a comment, I need to run out for a gourmet breakfast... OK, I'm back. Films I would add include: BABETTE'S FEAST, in which a former chef expresses her gratitude through food; EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, which uses food as a analogy for love; and GOD OF COOKERY, a Stephen Chow comedy about some serious cooking competitions (a great recommendation from Sark). I am so glad you included CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, with S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall as the chef behind cooking impostor Barbara Stanwyck. Cuddles also owned a restaurant in the Errol Flynn comedy NEVER SAY GOODBYE.

Dawn said...

Eve, i love this blog..very creative.

ClassicBecky said...

Eve, you made me think of the scene in GONE WITH THE WIND with Scarlett and Rhett on their riverboat honeymoon. She is stuffing herself with exotic foods and wants to eat the whole dessert cart. And though it is not classic, THE SOPRANOS always made me hungry. They were always eating in that show! Wonderful idea for a blog!

The Lady Eve said...

Rick - I think "Cuddles" is the heart of that movie and doesn't he just seem like a great cook? Dawn - glad you like it, it was a fun one to do (I also love food & film)...Becky - I hadn't thought of GWTW - good one!

sazball said...

Several of my favorite food-in-film moments involve pie and would be classified more as bit players than supporting characters. In both Arizona and A Thousand Pieces of Gold the heroines make extra money by baking pies and the men they love enjoy eating them. Jean Arthur's baked goods seem to be a recurring theme often appearing at crucial moments in her relationship with William Holden. He usually cuts the pie and proceeds to eat without benefit of fork and plate. And there's always a pie waiting for him when he returns after an extended absence. In A Thousand Pieces of Gold Rosalind Chao's character also bakes pies but these are shown in vivid color and seemed to be mile high type apple pies. Chris Cooper's character doesn't even bother to use a knife; he just grabs a chunk of pie and starts stuffing it in his mouth. Both characters exhibit bad table manners, but they convey such pleasure while eating the pies that this viewer (me) has already called a Whole Foods Market and ordered one for pickup.

Anonymous said...

Two things I love: movies and food. I'm gonna have to throw in Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman and Tortilla Soup, a Japanese and Mexican/American version of the same film with some of the best food I've ever seen. Then there's Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. I dare anyone to say they didn't crave chocolate after seeing this movie. And a very recent movie: Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Though I was hoping there'd be tons more scenes with food, what scenes they did have with it made my mouth water. Great, now I'm hungry. lol

toto2 said...

Robin of Loxley made a dramatic entrance into the castle's great hall with a deer slung over his shoulders and then helped himself to the feast served there in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Now I am off to the fridge.